Review: Allegiant-Veronica Roth

4/5 Stars***This review DOES NOT contain spoilers. 

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)-Veronica Roth 

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“Chaos and destruction do tend to take away a person’s dating possibilities.”

***

I used to think that when people fell in love, they just landed where they landed, and they had no choice in the matter afterward. And maybe that’s true of beginnings, but it’s not true of this, now. 

I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.

***

Just as I have insisted on his worth, he has always insisted on my strength, insisted that my capacity is greater than I believe. And I know, without being told, that’s what love does, when it’s right-it makes you more than you were, more than you thought you could be.

This is right. 

***

There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. 

But sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through the pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life. 

What makes the Divergent trilogy so powerful is that everyone can relate to the major concepts in the book, and it is truly great storytelling that can transcend the fiction, and serve not only as an example of how to deal with various hard moments in life but that can also make a personal impact on each individual reader. 

When people talk about the Divergent trilogy it’s always with a story, whether it be how it made them feel, how it inspired, changed, or illuminated some aspect of their life. 

My Divergent story is also a personal one. When this series came out, I was figuring out my life. I had just graduated with my undergrad degrees, and took a year off of school to pursue my ambitions to be a writer. Unfortunately, I am a stir crazy person, and being at home, in my chaotic household was not the best environment for exploring the craft. Yes, I wrote, a lot, and made huge strides on several stories but I didn’t finish. It was then that I realized that a year, at least for my first book wouldn’t be enough for me. So, I make the choice to go to graduate school. 

Tris and Tobias are and always will be role models for weighing options and making sacrifices when it seems choices are impossible. Going back to school was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, and right now it feels like hell. 

On a more positive note, my little sister was never a reader. I always tried to get her to get into series that I love but she was apprehensive. She’s a very picky girl. Finally, I was able to get her interested because I couldn’t STOP talking about Divergent. She picked the book up, and read straight through. Since then she has become somewhat of a reader, not an avid one but this was a turning point for her, and more importantly, it brought us closer together. 

I’ve seen people write open letters so often lately that I was a little hesitant to take a swing at it. When I heard about all the backlash from Divergent fans about the conclusion of the series I was both shocked, and frankly, appalled. Everyone has a right to their opinions but there are certain boundaries that are just impolite (for lack of a better word) to cross. 

As a writer, you’re constantly taking risks. You put your heart and soul on the line in the lives of your characters that you nurse and watch grow up until the end of the series or story. Sure, not everyone will love your characters as much as you do, and yes, some may hate your story. Others might be guilty of fangirl/boy-ing. I was warned over and over again about the now famously blacklisted chapter of Allegiant, and when I got there, as my Twitter can attest to, I was terrified. For those fans, the fans who have loved and respected these characters through their faults and bad choices, you will reach that chapter and hell yes, you will be scared, but if you’ve learned anything from this story, pushing on through fear, through pain, and being brave despite all signs screaming in your mind to turn back, you will take a deep breath and take the leap. 

I understand how many may be upset, devastated, feel betrayed, as I’ve read from some complaints, but I’d advise you to sit on it. To let the story sink it, and ponder the whole message. I was not disappointed. I thought that the ending was perfect, bittersweet, and yes, I cried, seriously, bawled my eyes out. I am very glad that I was in my room, comfortable rather than at school where I tend to read because I was a mess.

By all means, be upset, scream, cry, throw things, whatever you need to do to embrace the overwhelming feelings this finale evoked but to boycott future films, to send death threats, to demand a rewrite? This is like asking a mother to get her child cosmetic surgery because the sight of her offends you (yeah, I realize this analogy is a little exaggerated), or asking someone to change their mind about something they’ve spent years slaving over just because you were disappointed, i.e. the decision to change careers, or get a divorce. Yes, the writing process is so amazing because everyone can share in the story but everyone experiences what the story makes them feel, how it changes them, individually. The author has a right to this too, and as the creator does not have to sacrifice what the story becomes or needs to be in fear of upsetting a couple people. 

I would like to thank Veronica Roth for an unforgettable journey. One that helped, changed, and bettered me, and countless others despite the negative comments. Keep writing, I’ll keep reading. 

There will always be people who disagree with you, but believing in yourself, what you think is right, and being true to yourself, as Tris, Tobias, and the other Divergent trilogy characters learned, will always be better in the long run. 

Plot: After the chaotic conclusion of Insurgent, the factions have been dismantled, the factionless leader, Evelyn Johnson is now in power, and those rebels who helped broadcast Edith Prior’s notorious video are placed under trial. The world as Tris and Tobias have known it is destroyed, violence, and power struggles reign, and a group called the Allegiant attempts takes matters into their own hands. Tris and Tobias are not happy with the way things have turned out, nor are their closest friends. The destruction of the factions has only merged into a dictatorship rife with lies, secrets, and exhibition-like punishments. When the Allegiant corner Tris in an isolated area, throwing a bag over her head, and inviting her to join them, Tris is wary but intrigued. Exposing Edith Prior’s video to the community opened her eyes to possibilities outside their small world, and every just, brave bone in her body is curious to see, and help those on the outside.

Teaming up with the Allegiant, Tris, Tobias, Uriah, Cara, Christina, Tori, Peter, and a few others leave the world they knew and are greeted by a strange reality on the other side. When the truth about the role of the factions and community comes out, Tris and her friends are startled. It turns out that they left one world for another with the same issues. Two communities divided by prejudice, lifestyle choices, and stubborn notions of righteousness.

PROS:

  • Agony. Utter and total desperate, heart-wrenching emotional madness. Allegiant evokes so many feels it’s almost overwhelming. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scream, you’ll want to strangle someone, or even throw the book across the room (please refrain) but it is all worth it. This emotional roller coaster will open you up to a whole new level of identification with the characters. Sharing their struggles on such a deep, raw level will only enrich your love and respect for each character, even some you would never expect.
  • Tobias and Tris’ relationship reaches new heights. Their chemistry evolves from simple, natural magnetism, to something more heated. There are a few steamy scenes but what is most beautifully open and powerful is their ability to be honest with one another. Their love is not perfect, in fact, most of the time it’s in pieces and hastily patched back together, but how they make each other better and help one another grow is epic. Their love is lasting, and immortalized.
  • There are many plot twists, mysteries, shocking accidents, and truths that will have you on the edge of your seat, dying to know what happens next. While there is some foreshadowing, expect the unexpected. Even that won’t help.
  • Christiana, Uriah, Tori, Caleb, and even Peter have a greater role , each bringing something unique to the story. Each has their own lessons to learn and to teach that help the other characters grow.
  • Forgiveness, love, truth, sacrifice, and truly learning what it means to embrace bravery when it seems like all is lost, when hope is gone, and there will be no happy ending, and to fight on in light on this.
  • The explanation for the creation of the factions, the experiments, and the parallel worlds of the characters’ former lives with their new ones will bring up several moral and ethical questions that are extremely relevant to today’s society.
  • The ending: The final 50 or so pages of Allegiant are bittersweet. The sheer magnitude of revelation, reality, and life-altering changes will leave you reeling. Steel yourself, hold on, and don’t be too hasty. This is the kind of ending that you will need to mull over. Some of you will hate it, some of you will be okay with it.
  • The writing was clean, clear, concise and yet full of profound, thought-provoking ideas. I had so many quotes (as you saw above) highlighted that are now part of a collection of my all time favorites. There’s beautiful wisdom throughout, pause, don’t rush through the story to reach the ending, muse.
  • Told from both Tris’ and Tobias’ perspectives, you get closer look at what makes these characters tick, and a glimpse into their darkest emotions, thoughts, hopes, and dreams.

CONS:

  • The plot starts out very slowly, and sometimes drags to the point of feeling a little stagnant.
  • Near the end of the book so much happens at once that while it is high intensity and you will be rife with anxiety while reading, it is a bit convoluted. The information about genetics and the Purity War could have used more expansion. As an overarching theme and purpose, the mentality both positive and negative could have been more pronounced and seen in more characters, not just heroes or villains.

Please share any of your Divergent stories 🙂

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Keep reading,

-BB

Book Blast Blog Tour Review: Twisted-KayCee R.

Today, I am excited to be participating in my very first blog tour! Firstly, I would like to say thank you to Kathy over at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer for letting me in on this fun opportunity.
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3/5 Stars
Twisted (Twisted, #1)-KayCee R. 
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Twisted Excerpts – Choose your favorite

  1. I pushed the guy’s weight off me so I could get up to see if Dom caught the ball, but I stopped short when I looked up at who had tackled me. It was… me?  I must have hit my head. Hard. I heard cheers roaring, but they felt like they were coming from far away. That I was watching from a distance, even though I was there on the field.
  2. I started walking towards the door and felt something pulling me. Then I was flung back and thrown onto the couch. I tried to fight against it with my powers but at that moment, I didn’t have any powers left. My limbs went numb and my eyes got heavy.
  3. I held on to my memory of her as I took my last breath. Her wide bright smile and her beautiful green eyes sparkled as she looked at me. I stared into her eyes and, in that instant, everything was okay.
  4. He pulled my face back to his and started kissing me again. It wasn’t how I had always pictured it, the few times that I pictured it at all. I always thought if we ever kissed it would be full of passion, but he kissed me powerfully. Masterfully. I wanted to pull away and really tell him off, but what he was doing felt so nice…
  5. He told me all I ever wanted to hear from him, and it was horrible because it came at what cost? His death? Mine? Both? What ever happened to fairy tale endings? The endings in movies where the good guys win and where he and I would end up happily ever after? Instead it was a delusion while we waited for our deaths.
  6. I don’t know how to explain how I am, what I am. Ever since I hit puberty, I’ve been different. I was thirteen when the changes started happening. I started getting incredibly fast and strong. It wasn’t normal. I wasn’t normal. I was turning into a freak. I could crumple a brick in my hand like it was a piece of paper. When I ran, I was passing cars on the freeway and that wasn’t even me running at full speed. When I was running at full speed I wasn’t much more than a blur to anyone else. I never understood how this happened, or why it happened to me.
Plot: 

Cayden Rivers wants nothing more than to be normal, but we don’t always get what we want. For years he has been hiding a secret, afraid of being labeled a “freak”. Every day he goes to school, plays football, spends time with his girlfriend, and helps carry his drunken adopted father to bed. Nobody knows the truth about his unnatural speed and strength, including his life-long friend Camilla.

Suddenly, four strangers enter Cayden’s life, and not only do they know his secret, they also have one of their own. With their help, Cayden discovers there is more to his power, something much more dangerous. Something other people will kill to possess.

Camilla wishes her parents were around more. She gets lonely sleeping in her big empty house night after night. Sure, she has all the money she could ever need, but the only person who is there for her is Cayden. He has his own family and a girlfriend who takes up most of his time, so Camilla knows he won’t be there for her forever, and recently he’s been acting really strange.

Will Cayden be able to keep his secret and his friendship with Camilla, or will his new found power destroy everything, including his own life?

Switching between Cayden and Camilla’s point of view, Twisted will leave you aching for more.

Personally, I love quote 5. That was my favorite scene in the book.
 
PROS + CONS:
  • Cayden and Camilla are so perfect together their names are an alliteration. Their natural, relaxed interactions, their ability to understand how far to push, when to fight, and when to keep quiet is remarkable. They care for each other so much, transcend their not-so-fabulous lives, and make the world a brighter place by being together. They’re chemistry isn’t the kind of lusty, sexual tension that’s common in YA, but something more honest, deeper. It’s actually kind of beautiful.
  • The story was unconventional, unique, and quite a refresher from the angels, demons, vampires, and werewolves.
  • The plot was a little slow at first but as the mysterious nature of Cayden’s powers are revealed, the massive amount of questions about his past, his capabilities, and what exactly he is will have you digging in, frantically flipping the pages seeking a dramatic revelation.
  • Cayden’s secret, his insecurities, and how alone he feels not only in his home life but in his confusion about his powers is moving. The exploration of his inner struggles, his fight to keep up his normal, popular image, and the war between who he really is, and who he wants to become is one everyone can relate to.
  • Cayden’s necklace. What a creative, brilliant idea! Also, I seriously hope someone with jewelry making talent takes fangirling to the next level, and puts them out for sale.
  • There were a few typos, spelling errors, and weird grammatical constructions. Also, several echoes (repetition of the same word in preceding sentences multiple times).
  • Cayden is stubborn to the point of pushing people away, and is really harsh when he’s frustrated. Although he is a strong protagonist, some of his actions are questionable (he dates a very superficial, bitchy, paranoid, and extremely jealous girl with no substance). For being such a genuine, nice guy he’s pretty blind to what’s in front of him. This is infuriating, and his distancing from his family, and friends makes him hard to get to know.
  • The pranks, training, and general fighting between the characters is hilarious. Their jokes are definitely something worth reading over and over for laughs.
Get your copy now:
About the author:
kaycee

KayCee is a 24 year old self-published author from Cleveland, Ohio. KayCee has always loved reading. After a re-occurring dream she decided to try writing about it. She wrote the first installment of Twisted when she was 20.

“I kept having this dream about these twins, and then I just decided to run with it. I wrote the beginning, the end, and then filled in the middle.”

KayCee finished the book in 8 months and then decided to share the book online. After seeing people get interested in the book and the characters, she decided to write another book and turn Twisted into a series.

KayCee has finished four novels in the Twisted series and is currently working on the fifth book.

Follow KayCee:
~Inspired Kathy~
 
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Pleasant reading all,
-BB

Review: Obsidian-Jennifer L. Armentrout

Hi guys! I’m excited to share with you some news! Tomorrow, I am participating in a Book Blast Blog Tour and will be featuring Twisted by KayCee R. For those of you who may be interested, it is YA, it is supernatural, and there are many sexy male characters. Check it out.

I’m 50% done with Allegiant. There are several negative reviews on Amazon, 1-Star ratings. Let me tell you right now, for those of you who trust my judgement as a book reviewer, there’s no way I would consider this a 1-Star book, though everyone is entitled to their opinions. I should finish and post a review this weekend for those who are dying to read it, it will not be spoilery!

Also, for those of you who take part in Epic Reads TeaTime, I fully nerded out to the Spreecast today and my texts were on the live screen feed! If you want a recap on what was discussed, you can see that here: Allegiant Party

TBH moment: This book has been sitting on my TBR pile forever. Now that I’ve read it, I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner.

4.5/5 Stars

Obsidian (Lux, #1)-Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Beautiful face. Beautiful body. Horrible attitude. It was the holy trinity of hot boys.

***

A sweet, hot fire washed over my skin, and I squeezed my eyes shut. Every inch of me was hyper-aware of him. Of how my body fit against his, the way his thighs were pressed against mine, the hardness of his stomach under my hand. My hormones kicked in with the power of a dropkick to the stomach. Heated lightning zipped through my veins. For a moment, I pretended.

Plot: After the death of her father, Katy is just trying to live her life. Thinking they needed a drastic change after the tragic event, her mother decided to whisk her away to a new state, in a small town. Katy had her doubts about West Virginia. She assumed she’d be bored to death within hours of moving there, or at least, have her ear talked off by people with strong southern accents. What Katy didn’t expect was the smoking hot guy next door with the dazzling, sensual green eyes, and the toned, drool-worthy body. Never has Katy ever been so attracted to a guy before, that is, until he opens his mouth. Katy knocked on the door to get some directions, thinking hey, southern hospitality, and gets a verbal slap in the face. Not only does Daemon insult her, but he dismisses her as if she isn’t worth his time. When Dee, Daemon’s twin sister surprises her at the grocery store to apologize for her brother’s behavior, Katy is more than apprehensive. She can’t help but notice the way the townspeople shy away from Dee, and stare. Katy knows that there’s something off about Dee but she’s dying for a friend, and once she gets to know what a sweetheart Dee is, she’s thrust into a wonderful new friendship. Unfortunately, Dee and Daemon are a package deal. As dangers heat up, mysteries increase, and more questions are left unanswered, Katy uncovers the truth about her neighbors. Plus, Katy is just not sure what to do about Daemon. As much as he annoys her, she can’t deny her attraction, one she knows for a fact is mutual. When girls start getting attacked, Katy finds herself in the middle of an epic battle of good vs. evil.

PROS:

  • The chemistry between Daemon and Katy is magnetic. It’s the kind of infuriating sexual tension that is as steamy, and passionate as it is angry. Their love/hate relationship is fueled by witty, sarcastic taunts, and innuendos that will have you speeding through the pages looking for their next interaction. The descriptions. Holy hell. Fireworks! Even that is an understatement. Every touch, sensation, feeling is highlighted, and really allows you to experience, and embrace the compelling connection between Daemon and Katy.
  • Daemon is arrogant, gorgeous, and often rude but with a hidden compassionate side. Most of the time, he’s a bit of an ass. His pointed, teasing comments will almost always insight laughter, and fury to the point of wanting to strangle him.
  • Katy is a stubborn, hot-headed, yet reserved girl who sometimes lets her emotions get the best of her. She can hold her own in a fight, is a book blogger (she gets bonus points for that), loves to read, and is unbelievably brave. She’s willing to make sacrifices, and take risks that could get her killed and doesn’t even stop to think. Katy is a heroic, down-to-earth wonder girl. Occasionally she lets her assumptions get the best of her but all in all, she’s pretty awesome, and easy to relate to.
  • Lesa is my personal favorite character. For having such a small role, she packs a lot of punch. She is an unabashed pervert, and very open with her opinions on the subject. Her lines are hilarious, warm, and a tad blush-worthy.
  • What Daemon is is a huge mystery that will leave you guessing…as long as you don’t read the full Goodreads blurb. Tisk tisk.
  • The world of the Lux is creative, complex, and intricate.

CONS:

  • The explanation of the Lux was confusing, a lot of information at one time, and while fascinating, was bogged down with details. More space between reveals would have been less overwhelming.

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strange and familiar 5.30

Pleasant reading,

-BB

P.S. I’m a guest blogger over on thoughtfulmindsunited.wordpress.com. There I talk about a variety of things but will probably focus on reviewing the adult books I read. If you’re interested, there are several authors, and many subjects.

Review: Burn for Burn-Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

3/5 Stars

Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn, #1)-Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian 

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Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned. -William Congreve 

Plot: Burn for Burn is the age-old didactic tale of a woman scorned, or more simply, a story of revenge. Lillia, Kat, and Mary are girls from different social classes, levels of popularity, and home lives but they have one thing in common, the dangerous rage and thirst for vengeance after they’d been wronged. The story is told from three perspectives:

Lillia is one of the most popular, beautiful, likeable girls in school. She’s genuine, caring, and yet is trapped; she’s surrounded by the stereotypical mean girl-her best friend Rennie, a cheerleader-the jocks, and the typical bobble head other friend Ashlin. Up until this point, Lillia realizes that she’s made some mistakes in the past, one that she regrets more than anything (I don’t blame her), and starts to question whether her friendship with Rennie is worth it. When she finds out her baby sister Nadia got drunk and had a sleepover at Alex’s (her best guy friend) she feels more than betrayed, she feels raw, bruised, and wants nothing more than to get him back for taking advantage of her sweet, naïve little sister.

Kat use to be best friends with Lillia and Rennie until they dropped her and started treating her like she had the plague-i.e. poverty. Kat resents the abrupt way they left her behind in the dust, rose to popularity, and Rennie goes out of her way to spread atrocious, catty rumors about her. Kat wants payback for all the hate she’s suffered at the hands of her former BFFs and she plans on mercilessly dealing out punishment.

Mary is the same age as Kat and Lillia, use to live on the island but after a traumatic experience moves to the mainland for serious therapy, and is set back a year in school. Mary returns to the island years later to face her demons of the past, hoping to shove the new her down the throat of her tormentor. But as she settles down into high school life, he doesn’t even recognize her. This wounds her more than anything else. After all the pain, the torture he inflicted on her self-esteem that he would forget her was something she could not handle.

Teaming up with Lillia and Kat, Mary and the girls discover just how far they’re willing to go to make sure those who have wronged them get what’s coming to them, learn a little about themselves, and are able to transcend social hierarchies to find common ground with their strange partners in crime.

PROS:

  • Kat has an interesting, quirky personality with a sarcastic, fiery attitude that will have you rooting for her. Her creativity in coming up with the revenge plots is truly wicked. Kat also has a broken, sad past that is occasionally shown that reveals the deep scars the cold shoulder her BFFs gave her left.
  • There is a little something for everyone. The girls are relatable on many levels, and the bad experiences they’ve had become a shared hurt that is transcended by their partnership in their quest for revenge. Bullying, drunken mistakes, and changes in friendships that seem out of the blue, and without explanation are all something that most of us have dealt with on some level. Although revenge is probably not the best way to cope, sharing experiences with others is therapeutic in itself.
  • This is definitely a story of girl power, of unity, of overcoming the past, and learning who you want to become as an adult.
  • The fact that this is not a love story allows the focus to be on the development of these three girls, and really opens up exploration into their psyches.
  • Mary is such a tragic, heartbreaking character. Her pain, her blind hope, and recovery is reason enough to enjoy this book, and is inspiring to those of us who have been severely bullied, especially by those who we considered friends.

CONS: 

  • The semi-supernatural aspect was unnecessary, and detracted from the overall theme. Too Carrie.
  • There were a few typos.
  • Lillia is too soft, she puts up with the taunting, and snarky attitudes from her popular friends who she doesn’t even like just to be popular? For someone who is so self-righteous, and known as a good person, going along with the rude, nasty nature of her friends, and watching them victimize others makes her just as guilty.
  • All of the girls make assumptions based on little evidence, and react childishly.

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Happy reading,

-BB

Review: The Distance Between Us-Kasie West

4/5 Stars

The Distance Between Us-Kasie West

DistanceBetweenUs_Update

“Caymen?” “Yes?” “You look terrified. Does this scare you?” “More than anything.” “Why?” “Because I didn’t bring my mints.” “And now the real answer…” “Because I’m afraid that once you catch me, the game’s over.”

Plot: A modern retelling of the Pride and Prejudice we know and love, The Distance Between Us is a fun, flirty, hilarious tale of passion, conceit, stubbornness, and attraction that will have you smiling as often as your roll your eyes in frustration. Caymen is far from your average teenager. An only child in a single-parent home with a life that revolves around keeping the family business afloat to survive, Caymen doesn’t have time for fun. She practically runs the creepy doll store that she lives above and only has one friend, her bestie, a quirky, beautiful girl who likes to put pink streaks in her hair and go on adventures. Caymen lives vicariously through her and spends her days studying the few customers that peruse the store, usually elderly women. Everything is going monotonously as usual and Caymen is resigned to her life of boredom when a handsome stranger walks into the store. Xander Spense beckons Caymen over in the most pretentious, rude way, curling his two fingers in her direction. Caymen is offended and immediately labels him as a cocky, rich boy with a bad attitude, who feels like he owns the world and everyone should stop in their tracks to worship his awesomeness. Their interaction is cold, distant at first but then transforms into witty banter, chuck full of sarcasm and tension. Soon Xander starts showing up at the store, bringing Caymen hot chocolate, walking her to school, and she finds herself falling. As their friendship heats up into something more, Caymen is not sure she can trust Xander. Her mother had warned her since childhood of the dangers of rich, flirtatious men, in fact, Caymen’s father was one of them. Caymen doesn’t know how to let her guard down and covers her hurt and insecurities with sarcasm and self-righteousness. When Caymen’s mother begins to lie to her for the first time in her life, she starts to question her past. Caymen always knew Xander was wealthy but not that he was the heir to a huge international hotel chain, and when a tabloid informs her that Xander is dating a model she feels betrayed and doesn’t know what to believe. Will Caymen and Xander find it within their hearts to open up, to trust, and to dream together? Will she learn to let go of the past and build a future for herself? Will their blossoming love be enough to save them from their vices?

PROS:

  • Caymen and Xander have some of the best dialogue, it’s quick, sarcastic, flirtatious, and full of steamy, sexual tension. Their interactions are easy, natural, and they compliment each other.
  • Xander is a compassionate, semi-wounded and unsure guy. He’s gorgeous, caring, and goes out of his way to make sure Caymen is happy. The career dates he takes her on are imaginative, compelling, and show that he really listens to what she wants and understands her on the deepest levels. He is always the first to apologize, shows up with a charismatic, adorable smirk that will win your heart.
  • Caymen is dedicated, selfless, and will do anything, sacrificing her social life and future to help her mother. When Caymen finally starts to come out of her shell she’s wild, somewhat reckless, but full of a new lease on life.
  • There are a few plot twists but the biggest one is so shocking you’ll never see it coming.
  • The mysteries, secrets, lies, and doubts make for a creative, interesting plot that will keep you yearning for more just to discover what’s going on.

CONS:

  • Caymen makes ridiculous assumptions. She lets her own insecurities and prejudice cloud her judgements and makes a mess of things constantly. There are times when it’s enough to hate her a little.

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Pleasant reading all,

-BB

Review: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True-Sarah Strohmeyer

3.5/5 Stars

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True-Sarah Strohmeyer

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“The heart is a clever trickster that delights in playing the brain for a fool.”

***

“It is one of the most dreadful crises to afflict a fairy-tale theme park, a Cinderella gone rogue.There’s no telling what kind of mayhem a scorned princess can wreak. No telling at all.”

Plot: Zoe and Jess think their dreams are slowly starting to come true.  For these two close cousins, getting coveted spots as summer interns at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park means a chance at the $25,000 Dream and Do Grant, getting money for college, and interacting with some of the hottest guys on the planet, the Prince Charmings. But for Zoe the return to Fairyland Kingdom is bittersweet. After the death of her mother, Fairyland is a nostalgic place of happy childhood memories, of love and fun with her mother. Zoe vows to herself that she will help her cousin, who is suffering from serious financial problems that could destroy her future at Tisch in NYC to win the grant. When the girls arrive at Fairyland Kingdom orientation Jess is a mess, she’s dying to know if she got a spot as a princess. Zoe doesn’t really care as long as they’re together. As the names and castings are read off, Jess is devastated that she didn’t get the part of a princess but she swears to make the best Little Red Riding Hood the theme park has ever seen. Meanwhile, Zoe hasn’t been cast as a main character or even a furry, no it’s much worse, she’s been handpicked by the evil Queen as her handmaiden. Zoe is determined to make the best of the situation even if it is dealing with a crazed women with a superiority complex who feeds her dog caviar and eats 3 small almond slivers for breakfast. As the internship heats up, Zoe is run ragged with constant demands from Her Majesty, waking up at daybreak to walk Tinker Bell, the Queen’s dog and answering her phone at odd hours of the night to go on insane quests to answer the Queen’s every whim. Zoe hardly has time to sleep, let alone deal with anything else but one night, Tinker Bell runs into the Forbidden Forest and everything starts to change. Zoe finds herself sinking in quicksand, alone in the forest sans the Queen’s beloved dog. Zoe thinks all hope is lost when a Prince Charming appears, cloaked in shadow, Tinker Bell in his arms and saves Zoe from death by quicksand. From this point on, Zoe’s world is turned upside down as the cutthroat competition for the grant escalates to new levels of danger. The secrets, lies, bribes, manipulation, and rule breaking threaten Zoe’s spot as the Queen’s trusted, loyal subject. Zoe can’t get her heroic Prince Charming’s voice out of her head, she needs to know who he is. Will she be able to make it to the end of the internship without getting the ax?

PROS:

  • The concept is fantastic and unlike anything I’ve read before. Kids interning at a Fairyland Kingdom theme park living and acting as fairytale characters, learning accents, dances, behaviors. It’s completely awesome. The behind the scenes look into the training, makeup, and general years long process to be made into these characters is as interesting as it is complicated, competitive, and unique.
  • The atmosphere of betrayal, lies, anger, distrust, and sabotage among the cast members is compelling and leave you guessing just who the culprit is and truly how evil these play princesses and princes are.
  • There is a major plot twist that will simultaneously shock and urge you to facepalm yourself with how obvious it should have been.
  • Ian is poetic, cheesy, and an outrageous flirt. The scenes between Zoe and Ian are magical, relaxing, and charming. Their chemistry is natural and works (nearly) seamlessly.
  • The Queen is brilliant. Totally neurotic in a Devil Wears Prada way with her crazy habits of dining on champagne and foie gras with Tinker Bell, her pestering, her insults, and all around attitude made her the perfect villain and dictator.

CONS:

  • There’s not much character development or even details. Bare minimum is known about all the characters, especially the main characters. Zoe is compassionate, selfless, and learning how to live and love after the loss of her mother. Other than that zilch, not what she likes to wear, if she listens to music, there’s barely any real description. Jess is pretty much the same. Other than her financial troubles and her need for summer romance, nada. If anything, some of the smaller characters are far more interesting and developed. Adele, Dash, and Ian are all examples of this.
  • There were one or two typos.
  • A little slow and doesn’t really pick up speed.

If you liked any of the following, you’d probably enjoy this:

Smart-Girls-by-Sarah-Strohmeyer_covercinder-by-marissa-meyer

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Review: Insignia-S.J. Kincaid

4.5/5 Stars

Insignia (Insignia, #1)-S.J. Kincaid

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“Gruesome murder always builds the foundation for a beautiful friendship.”

***

“Nah. Ugly. Face it, Tom,” Vik said, “no girl who fights like that can be hot, too. It would cause a huge imbalance in the cosmos that would unravel the space-time continuum and make the universe implode. And she won’t show you. That’s a red flag. Big, bright, waving red flag.”

Plot: Tom Raines is not your average hero. Living day by day in a downwardly spiraling series of virtual gaming, cons, and making just enough money to stay off the streets, and support his father’s dangerous gambling addiction, Tom yearns for stability, and finds solstice in the virtual world. In virtual games, Tom is more than a gawky, awkward, 14-year-old misfit with acne, he is a mastermind at beating the system. When Tom is approached by the Intrasolar Forces and offered a place as a new recruit he thinks that this could be his chance to truly make something of himself, to have a secure future.

In the midst of WWIII, the Earth is depleted of resources and war is now fought between big corporations in outer space, hoping to enterprise off of the rich minerals and substances of other planets. The Intrasolar Forces is a government special force that virtually fights for these corporations in epic battles that amount to the fate of planet Earth. These teens go through a series of training and simulations to prepare them as fighters in this virtual battle field. There are political bribes, and shadow wars between countries for space property. The biggest, best fighters are renown as saviors of humanity. Tom hopes to rise in rank, and make it to the virtual big leagues. Tom has always been wary of the government because of his cynical, jaded childhood with his broken father but has followed the war, eagerly rooting for the most creative fighters. Tom’s favorite is Medusa, and he endeavours to meet her. He doesn’t know how he knows she’s a female, but he’s almost positive.

Tom meets with Medusa and their relationship continues to blossom into a secret friendship that may or may not be illegal. But the danger is part of its seduction. Meanwhile, Tom builds friendships, and learns that though he gets in trouble for his insubordination, it’s one of his strongest assets.

Insignia follows Tom on his quest to be more than a homeless, geeky loner, to use his skills to save humanity, and maybe even get a girlfriend.

PROS:

  • The chemistry between characters is so easy, completely natural, and some of the best realistic dialogue I’ve seen. It’s witty, fun, sarcastic, and hysterically funny. Their interactions are relaxed, a flurry of teasing, and playfulness that draw you in and make it hard not to smile. Their fierce loyalty to one another even in the face of expulsion from the program or imprisonment is touching.
  • [SPOILERY, stop now!] Tom and Medusa are perfect for one another. Their blossoming relationship is laid back, fun, full of competitive, aggressive attraction and reckless abandon for the rules. Their secret meetings are some of the most compelling, creative scenarios in the book.
  • The premise of Insignia is innovative, ingenious, and has a little something for everyone. The idea that wars would be fought in the future through simulations off Earth to protect the environment, and minimize the casualties of war is a beautiful, really inspiring concept. Plus, the virtual reality, code writing, hacking, and mental training is wickedly awesome. This takes the dangers of technology to a whole new level, and makes them even more fascinating, and astounding than they already are.
  • Gaming itself as a complex arena of sponsorship, manipulation, money, and a go-between for shark-like corporate powers is as thrilling as it is evil. The lengths that these world powers will go to get the most talented gamers on their side is sickening and yet, surprising believable. The corruption is slimy, and repulsive but one of the most realistic aspects of the system.

CONS: 

  • The superficial emphasis on attractiveness was a little annoying. There are elements of clichéd, high school drama within the training facility but generally, the characters transcend their stereotypes, those who don’t are the enemy characters. The makeover is also a bit much.

If you liked any of the following, you’d probably enjoy this:

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Happy reading,

-BB